A game that was once played with the hands and small balls emerged in northern France during the Middle Ages. This game was called “Jeu de Paume” and is believed to be the predecessor of Tennis.
The hands were replaced with rackets and the small balls with proper tennis balls and the game started gaining popularity as lawn tennis.
Today, the game is one of the most played sports in the world as you can find tennis courts in every concern of the planet. Professional tennis is a major sport and is played in magnificent tennis arenas.
So where is tennis most popular? Let’s find out!
The first game of modern tennis is believed to have been played in Edgbaston, Birmingham, England. The sport was still known back then as lawn tennis but this changed in the 19th century when tennis clubs started popping up all across the country.
This culminated in the establishment of the tournament in Wimbledon by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. The first tournament at Wimbledon was played in 1877 and it has been the most famous of all 4 Grand Slams ever since. This history certainly helped to turn tennis into one of the most popular sports in England.
Australia is another country that hosts a Grand Slam, the Australian Open. This tournament was established in 1905 as the Australasian Championships. Remarkably, this tournament was first organized as a partnership between Australia and New Zealand.
The tournament in Australia never really got the same prestige until it was permanently moved to Melbourne in the 1980s. This has resulted in a boom in the popularity of tennis in Australia, especially since all the famous players compete in the Australian Open at the Rod Laver Arena today.
3. United States
Tennis was brought to the United States in the 19th century and the first game of tennis in the country was played in Nahant, Massachusetts, in 1874. The first tennis clubs started popping up in the 1880s and this resulted in the establishment of the US Open in 1881.
The rich history of tennis in the United States has ensured that it remained one of the most popular sports in the country, despite heavy competition from American football, baseball, basketball, and soccer in recent years. The country is home to the biggest tennis stadium in the world, the Arthur Ashe Stadium, which features 23,771 seats.
Tennis was played at the royal court of France for numerous centuries. King Francis I of France (1515-1547) was a fervent tennis player. Despite this and the fact that the original game Jeu de Paume originated in France, the game was still largely played in English-speaking countries in the 19th century.
The game was still played by a lot of people towards the end of the century and the French Open was established in 1891. It was referred to as the Championat de France International de Tennis but was only open to French players initially. When international players started being accepted at the French Open in 1925, it exploded the popularity of the game.
Belgium is another country that has a remarkably extensive history when it comes to tennis. The most prestigious international team event in tennis is called the David Cup and was first played in 1898. Belgium was already included in the 5th edition of this tournament in 1905.
More recently, Belgium produced two world-class female tennis players called Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin. Both women dominated the game for numerous years in the late 20th and early 21t centuries. This certainly helped to increase the popularity of tennis in Belgium, a trend that has continued until today.
Switzerland is another country in which the game has exploded in popularity because of a legendary player, Roger Federer. He’s considered to be one of the best tennis players in history and this is stressed by the fact that he has won over 100 ATP singles titles. Only American tennis player Jimmy Connors won more titles in his career.
Equally remarkable is that Switzerland also produced a female tennis player of the same level. Martina Hingis was the first Swiss player to win a Grand Slam tournament, winning the Australian Open at the tender age of 16 years and 3 months. The exploits of both Swiss tennis players have ensured it’s one of the most popular sports in the country.
What I said about Switzerland can easily be said about Serbia as well. May world-class players have emerged from this small country in the southeast of Europe. The most famous is a male player named Novak Djokovic, a man who has been ranked number 1 for a record number of weeks.
The country has also produced several female tennis players who have competed at the highest level, including Ana Ivanović and Jelena Janković, both former number 1 players. So many famous Serbian players have caused a real boom in the popularity of tennis in this small country.
Tennis was brought to Argentina by British immigrants. The sport has long been thought of to be a game of the middle to upper classes of society, while football was the game of the common people. This all changed when an Argentine tennis player named Guillermo Vilas started dominating the game in the 1970s.
There are tennis courts all across the country today, most of them featuring clay. This is also the reason why Argentine tennis players prefer this type of surface compared to grass or hardcourt. Despite this, two Argentinians won the US Open, including Vilas in 1977 and Juan Martin del Potro in 2009.
The game of tennis was played at the Spanish court until the 17th century. The popularity of the game in the country had faded by the time Napoleon tried to conquer Europe in the early 19th century. This has completely changed in modern times as it’s one of the most popular sports in Spain today after football.
The country has produced numerous top players, including one of the most famous and most successful tennis players in history, Rafael Nadal. Spain has won the David Cup 6 times in the 21st century in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2019. This shows the extent of top players in the country.
Tennis is one of the most popular pastimes in Germany. This is emphasized by the fact that there are over 5 million active players in the country and over 1.4 million are registered with the local federation. This is more than anywhere else in the world which made it mandatory for me to include Germany in this list of countries where tennis is most popular.
Boris Becker and Steffi Graff certainly played a major role in the popularity of the game in the country. They are some of the most iconic tennis players that the world has ever witnessed. Boris Becker became world-famous when he won Wimbledon, the first of his 6 Grand Slam victories, at the young age of 17